Michael Carrick returned to Wallsend Boys Club in his hometown Newcastle as a potential life-saving defibrillator device was fitted at the club’s Kirkley Park pitch.
The five-time Premier League winner had a procedure to correct an irregular heart rhythm while a Manchester United player in 2017 and he spoke of his support for the Premier League Defibrillator Fund, which is making more than 2,000 automated external defibrillators (AED) available to grassroots football clubs and facilities in England and Wales.
“It can happen to anyone at any time, you can’t plan for it,” Carrick said. “You can’t put a price on someone’s life.
“For those that haven’t applied, make it the first thing you do when you see this. We want that safety to be on-site. It’s crucial.
“Hopefully the cabinet stays shut and doesn’t ever need to be opened, but it is reassuring to know it is there in case of emergencies, and if it can save one life, then that is a brilliant thing.”
Wallsend Boys Club has existed since 1904 and hosts 38 representative teams, with players ranging from four years old to 84 in the local community.
Carrick, whose Foundation helps to fund to Wallsend, was joined by his brother Graeme and father Vince, as well as more than 20 male and female walking footballers to participate in a match at the facility.
The participants then all joined a CPR workshop, led by Newcastle United club doctor Paul Catterson.
“Unfortunately, more than 30,000 people suffer cardiac arrests outside of hospitals each year and the sad fact is only one in 10 survive,” Catterson said.
“But ensuring access to defibrillators and learning CPR can help to increase survival rates. These modern devices give simple instructions aloud to the user so if you can use a smartphone, you can use one.”
Wallsend’s rich history
A £560,000 grant from the Football Foundation, which is funded by the Premier League, The FA and Government (via Sport England), helped to finance the construction of a floodlit pitch in 2018.
“Wallsend Boys Club plays a vital role in our community keeping people active and bringing them together,” said chairman Steve Dale. “Having a fixed defibrillator on-site means we can do that with increased safety.
“Our thanks to the Premier League and Michael Carrick Foundation for their continued support in helping us to provide access to football for thousands of local people.”
How clubs can apply
Grassroots clubs who own their facilities and want to apply for a defibrillator should head to the Football Foundation website and use this form to check their eligibility for an AED.
If eligible, clubs can place their order.
While defibrillators are designed to be simple to use, each grant recipient must have at least one person successfully complete The FA Education’s free online Sudden Cardiac Arrest course.
The Premier League is working with partners at The FA and Sport England to ensure facility developments, funded by the Football Foundation, incorporate this equipment in the future.